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   June 14, 2002 | 1350 IST


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Japan score historic victory

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Japan triggered nationwide celebrations after clinching a place in the World Cup second round for the first time in their history with a 2-0 win over Tunisia on Friday.

Substitute Hiroaki Morishima and playmaker Hidetoshi Nakata grabbed the second-half goals that delighted their army of blue-shirted fans and put the co-hosts top of group H.

They will now play group C runners-up Turkey in the knock-out phase in Miyagi on Tuesday.

Japan's Hiroaki Morishima is mobbed by team mates after scoring. Japan, who needed only a point to advance after a 2-2 draw against Belgium and 1-0 win over Russia in their first two matches, thoroughly deserved their victory.

Coach Philippe Troussier said: "I think we deserved to win. We are not tired, we are calm, we are on our way, we want to achieve good things. It's a very special moment for me personally as well as the team.

"It's the completion of four years of hard work and we've achieved our first objective. The support of the fans was very important."

The Asian champions lost all three matches at their World Cup debut in France in 1998 but secured a place in Japanese history thanks to a wonderful second 45 minutes at Nagai stadium.


Substitute Morishima scored with his first touch in the 48th minute as he pounced on the loose ball to fire past goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel from 10 metres after a Hidetoshi Nakata pass was deflected into his path by Tunisian defender Raouf Bouzaiene.

Five minutes later Morishima almost made it two when his glancing header hit the foot of the post after good work from Daisuke Ichikawa, who had replaced Junichi Inamoto after halftime.

Hidetoshi Nakata is hugged by team mate Hiroaki Morishima (L) after scoring Japan's second goal.But Nakata sealed the three points when he met another right-wing cross from Ichikawa to head firmly past Boumnijel from close range in the 75th minute and spark delirium among the crowd of 42,213.

Japan dominated in the humid conditions with Nakata and Shinji Ono at the heart of their best moves in midfield.

Ichikawa went close from the edge of the penalty area in the 61st minute, while a downward header from Ono brought a reflex save from Boumnijel four minutes later as Japan piled on the pressure.

Tunisia rarely threatened despite needing to win by two clear goals to go through after taking just one point from their previous two games.

They were limited to a long-range effort from striker Ziad Jaziri that flew wide in the 38th minute and a speculative overhead kick from substitute Ali Zitouni midway through the second half.

Japan's qualification means that for the first time at a World Cup, countries from all five of FIFA's participating continental confederations -- Europe, South America, Central and North America, Africa and Asia -- will be represented in the second round. However, Senegal are the only African country in the knockout phase.

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